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Richard's Story

I am a language teacher of many years experience and one of my languages is German. I have also been involved over the years in grassroots campaigns for social change, political change and one campaign on a significant medical issue.

A mutual friend knew that Jane, having completed the first draft of her translation, was having trouble working out how to find a publisher for it. The friend introduced me to Jane, who gave me her manuscript to read.

I think I would have been very interested in any case but it happened that just at the time I read the draft I was returning to high school teaching of foreign languages after twenty-five years working in other fields of education. Throughout the decade of the 1960s I had been a happy, and I believe generally successful and competent, teacher of twelve to fifteen year olds. Classroom management was never a significant problem for me. I went back to schoolteaching at the start of 1997, supremely confident that for someone with my educational and broad life experience it would be a piece of cake and I would be able to make a strong contribution. Within days I found myself in culture shock and fighting for control in the classroom, battling to get any worthwhile learning to take place.

Some teenagers - a minority - were as quiet, manageable and focused as the children I remember from the sixties. With these there was no problem. But at least fifty percent were to varying degrees unfocused, overactive, talkative, fidgety, disobedient, careless and uncaring, impulsive, lacking in persistence. They were displaying in fact, to varying degrees, all the symptoms of ADD/ADHD described in Hafer's book, which I had just read, and which are summarized on this website. Importantly, it was not just the children diagnosed with ADD who were affected but many others. In my opinion the very worst affected are, at least in my subject area (foreign languages), virtually uneducable in a normal classroom. Hafer's book was a powerful explanation for what I was witnessing in front of my eyes in my classroom every day. I felt that families everywhere need to know about it. From that time I was hooked on Jane's project.

All this despite the fact that I work in an outstanding, fee-paying private school with above average discipline, caring andIt is critically important too that I stress here that I do not believe my problem children are in the main naughty, willful or deliberately disruptive. Nor are they lacking in intellectual ability; among them there are undoubtedly some very able, perhaps even gifted children. But, as Hafer says, that area of their brains which ought to be assessing and forming judgments about their impulses, and restraining the inappropriate ones, is plainly disabled. It occurs to one to call out and she calls out. It occurs to another to poke a neighbour and he pokes her. It occurs to a third to fiddle with expensive equipment and he fiddles. I need six eyes, two in the front of my head, two in the back and one either side! It is nearly impossible for me to gain and hold their attention for more than a few seconds but when one of them wants mine, he or she demands it instantaneously, peremptorily, seemingly totally unaware that I am in the middle of teaching something or helping another classmate. committed parents and a record of relatively good academic success. Dietary phosphate is no respecter of wealth, privilege or parental concern.

It is critically important too that I stress here that I do not believe my problem children are in the main naughty, willful or deliberately disruptive. Nor are they lacking in intellectual ability; among them there are undoubtedly some very able, perhaps even gifted children. But, as Hafer says, that area of their brains which ought to be assessing and forming judgments about their impulses, and restraining the inappropriate ones, is plainly disabled. It occurs to one to call out and she calls out. It occurs to another to poke a neighbour and he pokes her. It occurs to a third to fiddle with expensive equipment and he fiddles. I need six eyes, two in the front of my head, two in the back and one either side! It is nearly impossible for me to gain and hold their attention for more than a few seconds but when one of them wants mine, he or she demands it instantaneously, peremptorily, seemingly totally unaware that I am in the middle of teaching something or helping another classmate.

I commend this site and Hafer's remarkable book The Hidden Drug - Dietary Phosphate to despairing teachers everywhere, to equally despairing parents of children who fit the picture described here, to medical professionals who genuinely want to help ADD/ADHD children and above all to research institutions. Research to explore and validate Hafer's conclusions is an urgent necessity. If such research proves, as I am convinced it will, that she is right - or substantially so, then the implications for education, for the medical profession, for the food industry and above all for public policy are truly immense.

 

 

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